CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Polesden Lacey, National Trust


A Regency villa with opulent Edwardian interiors, left to the National Trust in 1942 by Dame Margaret Greville (1863–1942) with the stipulation that an art gallery be created there in memory of her father, the Scottish brewer, philanthropist and MP, William McEwan (1827–1913). Both father and daughter were avid collectors. The Introduction by Gerard ter Borch and Pieter de Hooch’s playful doorkijkje, The Colf Players are among McEwan’s best acquisitions. To these he added early works by David Teniers the Younger (The Alchemist, Tric Trac Players and Card Players), a tavern scene by Adriaen van Ostade and landscapes by Salomon and Jacob van Ruisdael. The Dutch pictures Margaret Greville bought were largely portraits, such as the full-length of a woman before a balustrade by Isaack Luttichuijs or the strikingly ambiguous Woman in a Red Dress, an image of a woman of African heritage attributed to Gabriel Metsu. Perhaps her finest portrait is Frans van Mieris’ Self-portrait at the Age of Thirty-two, purchased by Greville through Agnew’s in 1919. Despite its small size, it exudes confidence and swagger. Her other important acquisitions include The Game of Cards by Cornelis de Man, a lively beach scene near Scheveningen by Jan van Goyen, and riverine scenes by Aelbert Cuyp and Salomon van Ruisdael. Most of these works are exhibited in the Picture Corridor, but during Greville’s lifetime the best paintings hung at her London house in Charles Street, Mayfair.

Alice Rylance-Watson, Assistant Curator of Pictures and Sculpture, with contributions by other National Trust curators and staff members (April 2022)